An Islamic creationist and televangelist fond of being surrounded by scantily clad dancing women he calls his “kittens” has been arrested in Turkey. Adnan Oktar, known as Harun Yahya, was arrested at his home in Çengelköy on the Asian side of Istanbul over accusations including forming a criminal gang, fraud and sexual abuse, Istanbul police headquarters said on Wednesday.
At least 80 others were also detained during raids across the country, police said, with warrants for a total of 235 people.State-run Anadolu Agency described the major operation as having been spread across five provinces and that searches of properties were continuing.
His female companions are believed to be among those sought by police including 106 women in Istanbul, Ankara as well as the southern cities of Mugla and Antalya.
Oktar, who is regarded by critics as a cult leader, hosts talk shows on his television channel, A9, on which he has discussed Islamic values and sometimes dances with heavily made-up, surgically enhanced young women and sings with young men, his “lions”.
In 2006 he wrote The Atlas of Creation, arguing that Darwin’s theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism.Oktar first came to media attention in the 1990s when he was the leader of a sect caught up in multiple sex scandals.
As a result, he had faced similar criminal charges of setting up a criminal organisation.
In February, Turkey’s television watchdog suspended a television programme hosted by Oktar that blended theological discussion and dancing, saying it violated gender equality and belittled women.